An analysis of the conversion to organic farming in South Africa with special focus on the Western Cape

Niemeyer, Katharina Barbara (2002-12)

Thesis (MScAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT:ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Organic agriculture is a growing sector world wide due to the ecological and SOCIOeconomic crisis in conventional agriculture. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (!FOAM) estimated a growth rate of between 20 and 30 percent annually across the world. This trend is also detectable in South Africa although it is still a relatively new movement. During the last two years the number of farmers who had converted to organic farming has increased sixfold and although they still account only for a minute small percentage of the total agricultural production, the increasing importance of this sector can now be observed. This was the reason for this study, which dealt specifically with the conversion process to organic farming. Based on survey results, knowledge was gathered about organic farmers in South Africa concerning sociodemographic aspects, farming operations, motivations and problems of the conversion process. In the second part of the study, the focus was placed on three farming systems in the Western Cape, including pome fruit, vegetables and table grapes. Six farms were evaluated on the basis of technical, social and economic aspects of the conversion period. Several differences were observed between organic and conventional farmers, including a higher level of education and a younger age of organic farmers. Mainly horticultural holdings were converted, with a potential for exporting. Problems farmers had to face during the conversion period included the lack of knowledge and information, higher weed infestation and high certification and inspection costs. On most of the farms it was still too early to assess the financial impacts of the conversion, but where it was possible, the feedback was mainly positive. The changes that took place during the conversion period included technical changes such as the approach to pest and disease control, fertilization and seed inputs. Essential investments at the beginning of the conversion period were a financial burden. Variable costs rose mainly as a result of an increase in labour and machinery input. The conversion period had no obvious impact on the fixed costs and thus the net farm income. With respect to these findings it was recommended to support the conversion to organic farming not only financially with different instruments such as subsidies for certification costs but also to develop an improved infrastructure for marketing, networking and information exchange. Several areas for research were identified to increase the knowledge of organic farming in the South African context.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Organiese boerdery is wêreldwyd 'n groeiende bedryf as gevolg van die ekologiese en sosioekonomiese krisis waarin konvensionele landbou verkeer. Die International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (lFOAM) het die groeikoers op tussen 20 en 30 persent per jaar wêreldwyd beraam. Hierdie neiging is ook in Suid-Afrika waar te neem, alhoewel dit hier nog' n relatief nuwe beweging is. Gedurende die afgelope twee jaar het die getal boere wat na organiese boerderyomgeskakel het, sesvoudig toegeneem. Alhoewel hulle nog 'n baie klein persentasie bydra tot die totale landbouproduksie, is die toenemende belangrikheid van die bedryf waarneembaar. Dit was die beweegrede vir hierdie studie, wat spesifiek klem gelê het op die omskakelingsproses na organiese boerdey. Beskrywende inligting oor organiese boere in Suid-Afrika, soos sosio-demografiese eienskappe, boerdery-aktiwiteite, motiverings en probleme met die omskakelingsproses, is met behulp van 'n opname verkry. In die tweede gedeelte van die ondersoek is daar op drie boerderystelsels in die Wes-Kaap gefokus, naamlik vrugte, groente en tafeldruiwe. Ses boerderye is aan die hand van tegniese, sosiale en ekonomiese aspekte van die omskakelingsperiode geëvalueer. Verskeie verskille is waargeneem tussen organiese en konvensionele boere, insluitend 'n hoër vlak van opvoeding en 'n jonger ouderdom van organiese boere. Hoofsaaklik boerderye in die hortologie, met uitvoer moontlikhede is omgeskakel. Van die probleme wat boere gedurende die omskakelingsperiode ondervind het, het 'n gebrek aan kennis en inligting, hoër voorkoms van onkruid, asook hoë sertifiserings- en inspeksiekoste ingesluit. By die meeste van die boerderye was dit nog te vroeg om die finansiële impak van omskakeling te kon beoordeel, maar waar dit tog moontlik was, is hoofsaaklik 'n positiewe terugvoer gevind. Die veranderinge wat gedurende die omskakelingsperiode plaasgevind het, het tegniese veranderinge soos die benadering tot pes- en siektebeheer, bemesting en saad ingesluit. Noodsaaklike investerings aan die begin van die omskakelingsperiode het 'n finansiële las tot gevolg gehad. Koste het hoofsaaklik weens 'n toename in arbeid- en masjinerie insette gestyg. Op grond van die bevindinge van die ondersoek is aanbeveel dat ondersteuning vir die omskakeling na organiese boerdery nie net finansieel deur middel van verskillende instrumente soos subsidies vir sertifiseringskoste gegee word nie, maar om ook 'n verbeterde infrastruktuur vir bemarking, netwerke en inligtingsuitruiling te ontwikkel. Verskeie gebiede vir verdere navorsing IS geïdentifiseer om kennis oor orgamese boerdery in die Suid- Afrikaanse konteks uit te brei.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52658
This item appears in the following collections: